You’ve gotten the company wide email before, at least one time. You’ve wondered if it really mattered.
But for every company, entrepreneur, and employee in Bend, Oregon this is a major problem. LinkedIn thinks you’re two and a half hours away in Eugene.
WHEN I FIRST NOTICED
I stumbled upon this glitch a few times over the last year and didn’t think much of it at first.
Maybe I was hitting a tower in Eugene and LinkedIn was coding its product to cater to my perceived location. Not a big deal. Maybe a little sloppy, I thought. But didn’t really think twice about it.
When this issue really started to get on my radar was last month when I started a new job. I made the annual pilgrimage to LinkedIn to make sure everything looked good, changed some copy, updated my photo, and entered some new information about myself. Including my new city. Bend, Oregon. I realize that not everyone takes LinkedIn super seriously, but this was really important for me. As a real estate broker I need my network to know where I am and I’ve recently started consulting with real estate technology entrepreneurs, a fact I wanted to make sure people who knew me could easily see.
After I was satisfied with the update to my profile I hit save and moved on in my happy new life as a self employed real estate maven.
THE LINKEDIN ECOSYSTEM AND BEND
While LinkedIn is a great place to maintain a professional profile, its other less obvious purpose is as a recruitment engine for companies and their job postings. And as someone who just changed their profile on the worlds largest job network might expect, I started receiving job postings from LinkedIn regularly in my email. What was so confusing to me was why LinkedIn was displaying the locations and positions as Eugene, when my location and the location of the companies they were advertising positions for were located in Bend. Since I wasn’t actively looking for a new job this wasn’t very troublesome for me, but it stayed on my radar the more these emails rolled in.
At this point in my life in Bend I was getting really excited about the number of companies relocating here and the number of smart people who wanted to move here. I have a desk at the 1001 Tech Center in the BendTech co-working space. It’s full of people who recently moved to the area, companies who have brought jobs to the region, and a testament to the work Dino Vendetti has done to bring more entrepreneurs and job opportunities to Central Oregon. I even started a podcast around the idea. And as a real estate broker my professional life is filled with helping people figure out how to move to Bend and find housing. But I started to wonder…were people actually seeing open job opportunities in Bend, or was this Eugene issue in LinkedIn confusing matters? Individual and company profiles said Bend, but in search results, emails, and other mediums it was showing Eugene.
OTHERS STARTED NOTICING
Then came the emails from others. A broker in my office sent a company-wide email telling everyone to make sure they’re LinkedIn profiles said Bend and not Eugene. I’ve heard from people in other local companies stories of receiving the same kind of internal email. Having this issue on my radar, I promptly checked my profile again and it seemed that everything was ok. It said Bend. But there was definitely something wrong on a global scale over at LinkedIn and some further investigation confirmed my suspicions.
LINKEDIN IS KNOWINGLY IGNORING BEND
While clicking on your individual profile confirms that you are indeed in Bend, it's the act of using LinkedIn for any other purpose (search, email, etc) when it places you in Eugene. LinkedIn confirmed with me via email that their third party geo-coding software lumps Bend in with Eugene. A city that is 120 miles away and across a major mountain range. So while even local employees, entrepreneurs, and companies are listing their location as Bend, when it comes to job postings, emails, and search engine results - LinkedIn says you’re in Eugene.
This is a major problem for small entrepreneurs like artists, accountants, electricians, real estate brokers, and others who rely on being searchable by location. And an even bigger problem for companies who are actively recruiting applicants for open positions in Bend. It’s confusing, misleading, and is affecting our local economy on a scale that I can’t fully measure. There is no telling how many prospects have ignored local job postings or local business owners because of this.
I’m no stranger to small market battles. I used to live in Fort Worth, a place that is often lumped in with Dallas, but is actually the nations 16th largest city with over a million people. Dallas often took credit for stories that belonged to the people of Fort Worth. And I’m not surprised by LinkedIn’s response to my inquiry. We're a small market. They blame their third party geo software and claim there is nothing that they can do. But this is a lie. They can do something and they should. In my previous role at a real estate technology company, we often worked with third party geo firms to update neighborhood boundaries that were outdated so that our search results would more closely reflect a locals view of these boundaries. LinkedIn simply needs to pick up the phone and demand that their vendor fix this issue for Bend. But at this point, they don’t think we’re important enough.
BEND BUSINESS LEADERS NEED TO TAKE ACTION
It’s my hope that this article will result in some action from local business leaders. Contact LinkedIn and let them know that Bend is a thriving community of over 85,0000 entrepreneurs, artists, machinists, technologists, and people who care about the future business prospects for this city.